Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chagas disease

Various species of Triatomine bugs, which if infected can transmit Trypanosoma cruzi also known as Chagas disease or American trypanosomiasis

Although we won't cover Chagas disease in this class I thought I'd better clarify my answer that it wasn't found in the US.  In fact like many questions the answer is both more complicated than expected but also more interesting.

Actual vector borne transmission of Chagas disease is though to be rare in the United States. Although some of the vector species are found here they generally thrive under poor housing conditions where, for example, people have mud walls or thatched roofs. However because the US has so many immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and South America - where an estimated 8 to 11 million people are infected - it is inevitable that a fraction of these immigrants are infected.

By applying published seroprevalence figures to immigrant populations, CDC estimates that more than 300,000 persons with Trypanosoma cruzi infection live in the United States.The vast majority of these cases are not correctly diagnosed - at least partly because doctors in the US do not consider Chagas disease when treating patients.

The CDC considers Chagas disease to be a 'Neglected Infection of Poverty' - infections that disproportionately affect impoverished people in the United States. These infections are considered neglected because relatively little attention has been devoted to surveillance, prevention, and/or treatment of these infections.

Because there may be a large number of undiagnosed cases in the US there is some concern about it getting into the blood donation system and since a test was developed in 2005 blood donations may be screened for Chagas disease.

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